Understanding “Probate”

by sequoialegal on February 6, 2013

By the Nair Law Office (US law and generally)

Probate is the first step in the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, with the sole intent to transfer a decedent’s assets to the rightful heirs and beneficiaries. The estate is examined by a judicial authority to determine how to distribute the estate after a person has died with or without leaving a will. In probate cases without a will, the estate is usually distributed to the person’s children and their spouse. Having a will will sometimes, but does not always prevent the estate from going through probate; laws vary state to state.

Probate and estate administration can be a lengthy and complicated process. Each party involved should have legal representation to protect their interests during administration. All heirs and beneficiaries need a legal advocate to ensure proper distribution of assets. Executor should consult with an attorney for legal assistance during probate proceeding to prevent a personal liability lawsuit. Probate attorneys have expertise  in the following areas:

  • Location of heirs
  • Identifying debtors
  • Paying taxes and debts
  • Allocation of assets as determined by a will or legal proceedings
  • Determining the validity of any disputes or litigation
  • Representing underage children and deciding guardianship of minors
  • Establishing guardianship of elderly and other disabled adults
  • Legal assignments of conservatorships

Estates with assets over $10,000 will have an easier time distributing those assets if a will and trusts are already in place prior to the death of the estate owner. If no will is in place, the court will decide who inherits the estates assets. This process can take months or even years. If you are an heir or beneficiary of an estate without a will, an attorney can provide the best representation in court.




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